You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2006.

BBC


Motorists were urged to take extra care

Motorists were urged to exercise extra caution when driving on Northern Ireland’s roads on Tuesday due to early morning snowfall.

The Roads Service gritted all main routes across Northern Ireland, but drivers were advised to slow down and leave extra time for journeys.

Areas particularly affected included Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Ballyclare in County Antrim.

The Glebe Road in Glengormley which was closed because of snow has reopened.

Irish Examiner

28 February 2006
By Niall Murray

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSCHOOLS, bars and sports clubs are among hundreds of venues being used to promote our native language when Seachtain na Gaeilge kicks off this weekend.
Running until St Patrick’s Day, this year’s event aims yet again to encourage all people at home and abroad to try speaking a ‘cúpla focail’.

Launching Seachtain na Gaeilge 2006 at the IFI in Dublin yesterday, RTÉ’s Sharon Ní Bheoláin said she was delighted to be involved.

“It’s clear that the Irish language is growing from strength to strength and becoming more popular among both young and old,” she said.

As well as a host of events for all ages around the country, there is an international flavour to this year’s calendar of events.

A crash course in Irish followed by a traditional music session is lined up in Frankfurt next week, for example, while table quizzes, school visits and screening of TG4 coverage of All-Ireland games is planned in Newfoundland, Canada. The United States and England are also featured on the list of international events organised.

Closer to home, the music industry, Government departments, RTÉ and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland are all making efforts to make this the best year yet for the promotion of the Irish language.

A musical treat is promised with the launch on Saturday of Ceol ’06, a double-CD of music ‘as Gaeilge’, performed by Irish and international talents such as Aslan, Mundy and The Waterboys.

Seachtain na Gaeilge manager Orla Nic Shuibhne said the event listings are growing daily, with local groups, schools and organisations taking part.

“There’s a great buzz being generated around Seachtain na Gaeilge this year and we hope to attract as many newcomers as possible it’s there for all to enjoy,” she said.

The status of Irish has been heightened by last year’s decision to make it an official EU language while a growth in the number of Irish language programmes and personalities has also been witnessed in recent years.

For a full list of events log on to www.snag.ie.

RTÉ

28 February 2006 19:50

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The Commission inquiring into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings appears to have made a breakthrough in its investigation.

33 people died in loyalist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May, 1974. Nobody was ever brought to justice for the atrocity.

In a third interim report to the Government, the sole member of the Commission, Patrick MacEntee, says he has already received certain security and intelligence documentation, and hopes to receive more in the next month.
Advertisement

Mr MacEntee has also met one person he had been trying to identify and meet with for a considerable period of time, and is hopeful of identifying and meeting with two more people who may be able to help his inquiry.

The Government has extended the deadline for the submission of Mr MacEntee’s report to the end of May to allow him pursue his current line of inquiry.

It is understood the new assistance is being granted to him by people with links to British intelligence.

Part of the terms of reference for the commission is to inquire into the failure of the gardaí to follow up on a number of leads, including an alleged sighting of a British Army corporal in Dublin at the time of the bombings.

It is also to inquire into a suggestion that a man with contacts with the UVF stayed at a Dublin hotel at the time, and information on a white van with English registration plates which appeared to be linked with a British Army officer.

He is also inquiring into missing documentation, and into why the Garda investigation was wound down in 1974.

BBC


Motorists were urged to take extra care

Motorists were urged to exercise extra caution when driving on Northern Ireland’s roads on Tuesday due to early morning snowfall.

The Roads Service gritted all main routes across Northern Ireland, but drivers were advised to slow down and leave extra time for journeys.

Areas particularly affected included Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Ballyclare in County Antrim.

The Glebe Road in Glengormley which was closed because of snow has reopened.

Irish Examiner

28 February 2006
By Niall Murray

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSCHOOLS, bars and sports clubs are among hundreds of venues being used to promote our native language when Seachtain na Gaeilge kicks off this weekend.
Running until St Patrick’s Day, this year’s event aims yet again to encourage all people at home and abroad to try speaking a ‘cúpla focail’.

Launching Seachtain na Gaeilge 2006 at the IFI in Dublin yesterday, RTÉ’s Sharon Ní Bheoláin said she was delighted to be involved.

“It’s clear that the Irish language is growing from strength to strength and becoming more popular among both young and old,” she said.

As well as a host of events for all ages around the country, there is an international flavour to this year’s calendar of events.

A crash course in Irish followed by a traditional music session is lined up in Frankfurt next week, for example, while table quizzes, school visits and screening of TG4 coverage of All-Ireland games is planned in Newfoundland, Canada. The United States and England are also featured on the list of international events organised.

Closer to home, the music industry, Government departments, RTÉ and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland are all making efforts to make this the best year yet for the promotion of the Irish language.

A musical treat is promised with the launch on Saturday of Ceol ’06, a double-CD of music ‘as Gaeilge’, performed by Irish and international talents such as Aslan, Mundy and The Waterboys.

Seachtain na Gaeilge manager Orla Nic Shuibhne said the event listings are growing daily, with local groups, schools and organisations taking part.

“There’s a great buzz being generated around Seachtain na Gaeilge this year and we hope to attract as many newcomers as possible it’s there for all to enjoy,” she said.

The status of Irish has been heightened by last year’s decision to make it an official EU language while a growth in the number of Irish language programmes and personalities has also been witnessed in recent years.

For a full list of events log on to www.snag.ie.

RTÉ

28 February 2006 19:50

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The Commission inquiring into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings appears to have made a breakthrough in its investigation.

33 people died in loyalist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May, 1974. Nobody was ever brought to justice for the atrocity.

In a third interim report to the Government, the sole member of the Commission, Patrick MacEntee, says he has already received certain security and intelligence documentation, and hopes to receive more in the next month.
Advertisement

Mr MacEntee has also met one person he had been trying to identify and meet with for a considerable period of time, and is hopeful of identifying and meeting with two more people who may be able to help his inquiry.

The Government has extended the deadline for the submission of Mr MacEntee’s report to the end of May to allow him pursue his current line of inquiry.

It is understood the new assistance is being granted to him by people with links to British intelligence.

Part of the terms of reference for the commission is to inquire into the failure of the gardaí to follow up on a number of leads, including an alleged sighting of a British Army corporal in Dublin at the time of the bombings.

It is also to inquire into a suggestion that a man with contacts with the UVF stayed at a Dublin hotel at the time, and information on a white van with English registration plates which appeared to be linked with a British Army officer.

He is also inquiring into missing documentation, and into why the Garda investigation was wound down in 1974.

The Blanket

Martin Ingram • 20 February 2006

Danny Morrison – well known Republican and convicted criminal wrote an article for the Daily Ireland newspaper on 15/02/2006 (Establishment Be Warned — The Truth Will Out), in which I believe he knowingly penned inaccurately. Let us examine his article.

You might think that it would be to the advantage of Tony Blair and incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown to expose the involvement of their main opponents — the Conservatives — in murder. They certainly have the information and power to do it — but not the will or inclination. For there are some things bigger than party politics and that thing is the untouchable body politic and its keeper, the British establishment, guided not by integrity but by the cardinal rule — “our country, right or wrong”.

Clearly Danny is being a touch tongue in cheek here, having a little dig at Gerry’s mates Tony and Gordon. That said, I believe Danny is failing to embrace a subject which is very much closer to home and which many [of this papers] readers want to understand and get the Sinn Fein leadership to go on the record about. Danny should be asking why Gerry and Martin are not willing to engage in a public debate at the Ard Fheis about why and HOW the movement is riddled with informers and the subject of Republican collusion.

>>Read on

Derry Journal

Tuesday 28th February 2006

SECTARIAN THUGS who went on the rampage in Dublin’s city centre at the weekend have “smeared” the name of true Irish republicanism, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has declared. The Foyle MP’s outburst follows the violence which erupted in the heart of the Irish capital on Saturday afternoon when republican protesters tried to stop a loyalist march and rally.

Forty-one people were arrested and retailers claim they lost 10 million euro in sales after shoppers fled the area. During the trouble, Gardai and youths fought pitched battles along O’Connell Street where a “Love Ulster” rally to remember the victims of republican violence was to start. Mark Durkan has accused the rioters of besmirching “true Irish republicanism.” “These rioters have disgraced themselves and given the organisers of this parade even more strife than they could have hoped for,” he said. “The scenes of violence and the damage to property have been appalling and smear the name of true Irish republicanism. “If people are serious about having a united Ireland then they need to get serious about ensuring that those who live on this island and who are British have an equal place in it and their identity will be respected and protected.

“The sectarianism and thuggery on the streets of Dublin on Saturday will do nothing to advance that and stands in total contradiction to the true republicanism of decent people on this island.” Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, meanwhile, also condemned the disturbances.

The Mid-Ulster MP remarked: “Sinn Fein advised all its members to stay away from the parade. Sinn Fein had no part in it whatsoever and totally condemns the actions of those involved in the trouble. “It was absolutely disgraceful and should not have happened. The march should have been allowed to pass off peacefully and without any interference,” added Mr. McGuinness. The DUP’s Gregory Campbell, who also condemned the violence, said it was ludicrous to suggest that the disturbances may have set back prospects for the eventual reunification of the country. “Whether it is flower petals or shards of glass being thrown, it doesn’t make any difference because there is not going to be a united Ireland,” said the East Derry MP. “If the situation had been entirely different and Saturday had turned out peaceful, then people would have been saying it had advanced the prospects for a united Ireland. Both suggestions are equally nonsensical because it simply isn’t going to happen,” Mr. Campbell added.

The Blanket

Martin Ingram • 20 February 2006

Danny Morrison – well known Republican and convicted criminal wrote an article for the Daily Ireland newspaper on 15/02/2006 (Establishment Be Warned — The Truth Will Out), in which I believe he knowingly penned inaccurately. Let us examine his article.

You might think that it would be to the advantage of Tony Blair and incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown to expose the involvement of their main opponents — the Conservatives — in murder. They certainly have the information and power to do it — but not the will or inclination. For there are some things bigger than party politics and that thing is the untouchable body politic and its keeper, the British establishment, guided not by integrity but by the cardinal rule — “our country, right or wrong”.

Clearly Danny is being a touch tongue in cheek here, having a little dig at Gerry’s mates Tony and Gordon. That said, I believe Danny is failing to embrace a subject which is very much closer to home and which many [of this papers] readers want to understand and get the Sinn Fein leadership to go on the record about. Danny should be asking why Gerry and Martin are not willing to engage in a public debate at the Ard Fheis about why and HOW the movement is riddled with informers and the subject of Republican collusion.

>>Read on

Derry Journal

Tuesday 28th February 2006

SECTARIAN THUGS who went on the rampage in Dublin’s city centre at the weekend have “smeared” the name of true Irish republicanism, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has declared. The Foyle MP’s outburst follows the violence which erupted in the heart of the Irish capital on Saturday afternoon when republican protesters tried to stop a loyalist march and rally.

Forty-one people were arrested and retailers claim they lost 10 million euro in sales after shoppers fled the area. During the trouble, Gardai and youths fought pitched battles along O’Connell Street where a “Love Ulster” rally to remember the victims of republican violence was to start. Mark Durkan has accused the rioters of besmirching “true Irish republicanism.” “These rioters have disgraced themselves and given the organisers of this parade even more strife than they could have hoped for,” he said. “The scenes of violence and the damage to property have been appalling and smear the name of true Irish republicanism. “If people are serious about having a united Ireland then they need to get serious about ensuring that those who live on this island and who are British have an equal place in it and their identity will be respected and protected.

“The sectarianism and thuggery on the streets of Dublin on Saturday will do nothing to advance that and stands in total contradiction to the true republicanism of decent people on this island.” Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, meanwhile, also condemned the disturbances.

The Mid-Ulster MP remarked: “Sinn Fein advised all its members to stay away from the parade. Sinn Fein had no part in it whatsoever and totally condemns the actions of those involved in the trouble. “It was absolutely disgraceful and should not have happened. The march should have been allowed to pass off peacefully and without any interference,” added Mr. McGuinness. The DUP’s Gregory Campbell, who also condemned the violence, said it was ludicrous to suggest that the disturbances may have set back prospects for the eventual reunification of the country. “Whether it is flower petals or shards of glass being thrown, it doesn’t make any difference because there is not going to be a united Ireland,” said the East Derry MP. “If the situation had been entirely different and Saturday had turned out peaceful, then people would have been saying it had advanced the prospects for a united Ireland. Both suggestions are equally nonsensical because it simply isn’t going to happen,” Mr. Campbell added.

Daily Ireland

In the second excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, we discover how Sands was politicised during his first period in prison.

28/02/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usGerry Adams’ and Brendan Hughes’ arrival in Cage 11 started a pot boiling that had been simmering for some time. The latent dispute between younger volunteers and the more conservative and Catholic veterans coincided with a parallel dispute within the IRA about Britain’s intentions in Ireland…

The IRA leadership insisted that the British were beginning to withdraw from Ireland.

This assertion was nothing new. The IRA leadership had been claiming that victory was “imminent” since late 1973, when Republican News ran an article entitled “British Army Starts Withdrawal”. In May 1974, the paper ran a front-page story claiming that the British minister of defence Roy Mason had admitted that his troops had “lost the war”, and cited the last day of 1974 as the planned “English withdrawal date”. Now, the IRA leadership claimed that British withdrawal was an integral part of the truce process.

Many younger prisoners believed them. They had been in jail for years and were now being told by their leaders that they would soon be released because the British were withdrawing.

“We wanted to see this in terms of a British withdrawal, so we did,” admits Séanna Walsh.

Bobby’s continuing belief in the leadership is displayed in a scribble that he wrote on the inside cover of an Irish book that he was reading: “Roibeard Ó Seachnasaigh, Cas 11, Ceis Fada, Blian 75, Blian Saoirse” (Bobby Sands, Cage 11, Long Kesh, 1975, Year of Freedom).

Adams and Hughes argued the opposite: The British were not withdrawing, the war was not yet over, and the struggle had to be rebuilt with politically educated rank-and-file volunteers. They spoke of a “long war”, with implications for all aspects of the struggle. Most importantly, the struggle had to become more politicised; it had to offer something to the communities at its centre if they were to support it over the long haul.

They opposed the IRA’s strategy outside of jail. They viewed the struggle as an anti-colonial war of liberation and saw the IRA’s retaliatory campaign against Protestants as a diversion that played straight into the hands of the British state. Inside prison, they opposed the undemocratic, authoritarian, non-transparent, overly militaristic, and anti-Marxist leadership of Davey Morley and his camp staff…

Adams was cautious. He constantly beat into the others, including Hughes, to stay within the movement’s lines because he knew that Cage 11 was barely tolerated by the camp staff. Hughes, on the other hand, could not contain his open disdain for Morley and once told him straight to his face that he could build a far better group of volunteers with self-discipline and comradeship than Morley’s brand of enforced discipline.

“It was clear where I stood, quite clear where I stood,” Hughes recalls. “Gerry was shrewder in his opposition… Me being who I was, I was more verbally antagonistic toward them all.”

While the men in Cage 11 immediately accepted Adams as their OC, they were far from unified about the need for change either in the prison leadership or in the overall leadership and strategy of the IRA. For Bobby, continued support for Davey Morley was a matter of army discipline. He was an IRA volunteer who had been trained to follow orders without question. Hughes’ open defiance of the leadership led to his first direct encounter with Bobby Sands. Hughes had been criticising the IRA leadership in front of other prisoners for their sectarian bombing campaign against Protestants, which he said played into the hands of the British government’s campaign to portray the Irish struggle as tribal warfare between two equally repugnant groups of natives.

One day, Gerard Rooney brought Bobby and another prisoner into the Dark’s [Hughes’] hut to arrest him. They escorted Hughes to the study hut, where Roon accused him of dissenting against the authority of the IRA leadership and gave him a severe reprimand. Rooney ordered Hughes to stop his opposition to the leadership or he would be court-martialled.

Hughes went back to his hut, seething with anger. He packed up his gear and prepared to leave Cage 11 to join the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in another cage. Adams persuaded him to stay. In hindsight, Hughes admits that the position of the arresting party that detained him was not as clear-cut as he thought at the time. Once he got to know Bobby and began talking to him, he realised he and Rooney were already coming round to his way of thinking. But they were disciplined IRA volunteers. Bobby’s heart was not in the arrest, yet he did it as a matter of IRA discipline.

Over the next six to nine months, Bobby’s resistance to change broke down. He began to question the movement’s strategies, both inside and outside of jail, as he raised his political consciousness to a higher level.

Gerry Adams encouraged all of the young prisoners to participate in an intensified programme of political education that promoted debate and political self-awareness.

He gave them new confidence to develop their radical political ideology and protected them from the camp officers as they did so. Adams and Hughes also won their loyalty by demonstrating solidarity with them rather than demanding obedience.

Personality conflicts dissolved. Soon, Cage 11 had a more collective leadership and collective responsibility. In their military parades, everybody fell in together and ordinary volunteers got to dismiss the parade. Cage staff did menial tasks alongside ordinary volunteers. Even the distinction between cleared and uncleared prisoners was largely ignored.

Cage 11 became the centre of challenge to the established leadership as Adams built “a number of enterprises” to raise the prisoners’ political awareness.

He introduced new classes that critically deconstructed republican ideology and policy. He resourced them by starting a book club that provided the necessary materials for self-education. Adams used his contacts to supply the book club and to build up a cage library. Prisoners gave up their food parcels to get books, instead. Bobby Sands, says Adams, had “a more than normal interest” in these activities. Adams developed this new awareness by encouraging the young radicals to continue reading global revolutionaries but also to synthesise them with Irish socialists like James Connolly and Liam Mellows.

“It’s all well and good talking about Che Guevara or Hô Chi Minh… now let’s get back to what we’re doing,” he would challenge them.

He strongly believed that “you ground your politics in the indigenous… it’s much easier to argue the validity of a position from the perspective of a James Connolly or a Fintan Lalor or a William Thompson or a Liam Mellows or a Pearse.”

Bobby threw himself into the new education regime. When he was not in classes or debating in the yard, Tomboy Loudon often found him lying on the bed in the cubicle they now shared in the Gaeltacht hut, holding a book by Che Guevara in his right hand and writing notes on the partition wall with the pen he held in his left. He began to organise notebooks on “guerrilla struggle” and “the Cuban revolution”.

Bobby and the others developed from a near childish understanding of politics to a relatively mature political analysis. They were under the guidance of the new leadership but they achieved the transition by learning from each other. Learning came through participation and debate and not through lecturing and the handing down of “truth” by a “teacher” of superior intellect.

The debate that had the strongest effect on Bobby Sands began when Gerry Adams organised a series of critical discussions of Sinn Féin’s central policy document called Éire Nua. What began with a critical analysis of existing policy ended as a full-blown radical alternative that Adams called “active abstentionism” — that is, abstention from the existing structures of mainstream politics while actively creating an alternative that combined grass-roots democracy with military resistance to British rule.

Adams encouraged wide-ranging discussions of people’s councils and grass-roots politics, always with an eye toward how a more democratic and participatory grass-roots strategy could be incorporated into the republican campaign outside of prison. The prisoners discussed how military struggle alone was an inadequate basis for bringing about progressive social change; it had also to be political struggle, a struggle to create something and not just a fight against the Brits. But how could you do this and still adhere to one of the movement’s sacred cows: the policy of abstaining from elections?

Just because the movement did not participate in elections, they decided, did not mean it must avoid politics. Rather, it had to build an alternative administration, particularly in “war zones” where the IRA enjoyed widespread grass-roots support and where the state failed to provide adequate services.

Adams incorporated the main points of these discussions in a series of articles under the pseudonym “Brownie” in Republican News. In time, this would be his most lasting influence on Bobby Sands, not just in terms of what he wrote but also by demonstrating that the written word could be an effective tool of struggle. If, in time, Bobby Sands became the leading republican propagandist through his own writings — prose, essays, songs, and poetry — he was following the example of Adams. In Adams, Sands found a role model to help him complete his personal journey toward becoming a politicised militant.

Mellows was the Irish revolutionary that Bobby came to admire most. He was one of four republican leaders who the Southern Irish government executed in December 1922, in reprisal for an IRA shooting of a member of the Dublin parliament. The four were executed without trial, by cabinet decision, even though they were all in jail when the politician was shot. Mellows, just 27 years old, was the most radical republican of his time.

Mellows’ writings contained thoughts about building alternative republican structures as a challenge to the existing government of his day.

“Where is the government of the republic?” he wrote. “It must be found… It is, and must always be, a reality.”

By this, Mellows meant that alternative structures of government had to be built, including courts, land settlements, decrees, etc. Now, the prisoners in Cage 11 explored whether a similar opportunity to “find” the republic existed in the North of Ireland. People in the nationalist communities had “opted out” of the British system, providing a real opportunity to build alternative structures of local governance. As Adams summarised their discussions, “… the building of alternatives cannot wait until ‘after the war’. It must start now.”

And this was not just a military war; it was also necessary to fight the British on economic, political, and cultural fronts. Now was the time to build “people’s organisations” because they could harness the energy that “only a people at war possess”.

Volunteers like Bobby could build the alternative. In every neighbourhood, they could work with people to govern themselves. They might even organise parallel community councils in the three or four big nationalist areas in Belfast, complete with departments to provide services. Far from being an alternative to armed struggle, such a programme of community action would strengthen the IRA’s war effort.

Again, as Adams wrote: “If we have only a local unit in an area, the Brit wins by isolating or removing that unit from the people. If the unit is part of an aggressive republican or people’s resistance structure (local people’s councils), the Brit must remove everyone connected, from schoolchildren to customers in the co-ops, from paper sellers to street committees, before he can defeat us. Immersed in the structure, as part of the alternative, republicanism can’t be isolated and will never be defeated.”

Bobby Sands was excited by this kind of talk. Here was the kind of project that he could work with, a revolutionary project that was Irish in character and origins, yet reflected the kind of militant politics that he had been reading about in the books by Latin American revolutionaries.

In Mellows, he found an Irish revolutionary spirit that he had earlier located in men and women from other countries. In Gerry Adams, he found a mentor who had practical suggestions about a way forward. Here was something that he could take from Long Kesh and put into practice back in Twinbrook.

Tomorrow’s excerpt describes the end of the first hunger strike in 1980.

Bobby Sands book launches:
Belfast: Thursday, March 9 at 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls Road.
Dublin: Friday, March 10 at 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre, Pearse Street.
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13. Details to be confirmed.
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm, Mid-Ulster Republican Centre, Gulladuff.

Daily Ireland

Direct ruler tells Finucanes he is not responsible for what happened during Thatcher’s reign

By Jarlath Kearney
28/02/2006

– Relatives of murdered solicitor learn that intelligence and secret service members involved are still serving as Crown employees –

Direct-rule Northern secretary Peter Hain has allegedly told Pat Finucane’s family not to blame him “for what happened under Maggie Thatcher”.
It has also been learned that members of Britain’s intelligence and security services who were involved in the circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s 1989 murder are continuing to serve as Crown employees.
An informed source last night confirmed that British officials made the admission during a meeting between members of Mr Finucane’s family and secretary of state Peter Hain in Belfast three weeks ago.
It has been alleged that during the meeting on February 7, Mr Hain told the Finucane family: “Don’t blame me for what happened under Maggie Thatcher”.
Last night the NIO told Daily Ireland that they would not comment on what may or may not have been said at the meeting.
The NIO also confirmed that a private, personal letter sent by Mr Hain to Geraldine Finucane last week was divulged by the British government to the media in recent days.
“We gave it (to the press), we didn’t leak it,” an NIO spokesman said.
Mr Finucane – a prominent defence solicitor – was murdered in front of his family at their north Belfast home in 1989. Although the UDA was responsible for the killing, at least five loyalists implicated in the affair were British government agents.
Following the 2001 Weston Park multi-party negotiations, Canadian judge Peter Cory was appointed to review the circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s murder.
Judge Cory’s report was published in edited form by the British government in 2004.
Judge Cory recommended a public, independent inquiry into the murder to investigate prima facie evidence of collusion.
However, the British government has since introduced the controversial new Inquiries Act.
This legislation vests a government minister – rather than an independent tribunal – with control over any inquiry.
The Finucane family has rejected the Inquiries Act.
After his family’s meeting with Mr Hain on February 7, Pat Finucane’s son Michael told Daily Ireland that the British government was not implementing Judge Cory’s recommendation: “What is now being proposed is an intelligence services’ inquiry, in which it is entirely possible the only people who will see all of the relevant material are the intelligence services who created it in the first instance.
“You really come away from such a meeting with the burning question: who the hell is running the country?” Mr Finucane said.
Last week, during a visit to Belfast, Judge Cory branded the British government’s approach as “Alice in Wonderland”.
“My goodness, when you look at it, in the middle of everything, you move the goal posts and you change the rules of the game. I just don’t think it’s the way to run a railroad, but I’m not running the railroad.
“If you told me at the beginning, ‘no matter what you do we’re going to change the rules’, then any self-respecting person would say, ‘thank you, no, I’d just as soon not, this is Mickey Mouse – it’s Alice in Wonderland’. But you don’t know that at the time,” Judge Cory said.
In a statement to Daily Ireland yesterday, Peter Hain claimed that the Inquiries Act was the only vehicle for progressing an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder.
“The inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane will hear evidence that goes to the heart of national security in Northern Ireland,” Mr Hain said.
“There will be evidence which cannot be made public because it could cause real damage to national security or put lives in danger.
“The inquiry report will be published and anything that is held back – redacted –will be the bare minimum necessary to protect national security and fulfil the government’s legal obligations. This inquiry would have full co-operation from government. The murder of Pat Finucane must be investigated fully. To continue to argue about the process when this is the only way it can be done simply adds to the sense of frustration and serves no interest, least of all that of establishing the truth,” Mr Hain said.

Sinn Féin

Published: 28 February, 2006

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has said that the harassment and intimidation of an Ogra Shinn Féin member as he travelled from Omagh to Belfast is totally unacceptable and evidence of the routine and targeted nature of political policing.

Mr Doherty said:

“The intention of the PSNI involved in this incident was to try and intimidate a young member of Sinn Féin. This is political policing at its‚ most basic and corrupt level. The attempt to harass and intimidate a political activist is totally unacceptable.”

Describing the incident Ogra Shinn Féin member Barra Mac an fhaili said:

“I was on my way to Belfast on Friday, 24th February, on the 5.30 pm bus to Belfast from the Omagh Translink Bus Depot. I was on the bus about 10 minutes, on the Dublin Road, Omagh when the bus was stopped by two PSNI cars. They had their sirens on and their lights were flashing.

“A PSNI member boarded the bus and after a short time approached me and asked me to leave the bus with my bags. When searching the contents of my bag a number of items, including election literature, were thrown onto the roadside. Despite not asking for my details at least one of the PSNI officers knew my name.

“This was clearly a deliberate attempt to try and frighten me. I was held for 15 minutes and questioned me on my movements on that day, why and how long I was going to Belfast for and who I was meeting up with in Belfast.”ENDS

Belfast Telegraph

Anger over alerts not passed to RUC

By Chris Thornton
28 February 2006

Omagh relatives have demanded a meeting with the director general of MI5 in response to revelations that the intelligence agency had a warning about the massacre that was never passed on to police.

Some families of the 29 dead have called for “straight answers” from Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of the secret agency.

And the SDLP has said the findings of a PSNI review should halt plans to make MI5 the lead intelligence agency in Northern Ireland.

Last week it emerged that FBI agent David Rupert, who had penetrated dissident republican ranks, told MI5 in early 1998 – five months before the bombing – that a bomb would be planted in Londonderry or Omagh in a Vauxhall Cavalier car.

That model of car is believed to have been favoured by bombmakers because its suspension could be modified so that it would not appear it was carrying a heavy load.

MI5 tipped off the Garda about the plot and arrests were made.

But the RUC was not told – and on August 15, 1998, the Real IRA exploded the bomb that killed 29 people and two unborn children.

Omagh relatives were told about the information last week. They were told that the Garda also had key information that was not passed north – an informant told them that a Cavalier had been stolen to order for the Real IRA.

Stanley McComb, whose wife Ann was killed, said the families want to meet Ms Manningham-Buller and the Republic’s Justice Minister Michael McDowell. “We want straight answers,” he said.

The dissemination of intelligence like the Omagh warning is a crucial issue around Government plans to give MI5 primacy over police in Northern Ireland.

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood said those plans should now be scrapped.

“Given that MI5 failed to account for what they did in the past means they should have no role in the future,” he said.

“MI5 have failed to answer enormous questions around the single biggest atrocity of the conflict,” added Mr Attwood.

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
28 February 2006

The inquest into the Omagh bombing may have to be re-examined because of new evidence about ignored warnings, the chairman of a victims’ group said today.

Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Omagh Self Help Group, said he has written to Coroner John Leckey to draw his attention to evidence that MI5 and the Garda failed to pass intelligence to the RUC – either to prevent the bombing or help the investigation afterwards.

Mr Gallagher says the evidence was also withheld from the 2000 inquest into the deaths.

Last week senior PSNI officers told the families that MI5 had been told in 1998 by American agent David Rupert, who had penetrated the Real IRA, that dissident republicans were preparing to bomb Londonderry or Omagh with a Vauxhall Cavalier car.

That warning was given five months before the August 15, 1998, blast that killed 29 and two unborn children.

The PSNI officers also reported that an informer told Garda Special Branch that a Vauxhall Cavalier had been stolen for the Real IRA just before the bombing. The car was used to carry the bomb to the town.

Mr Gallagher says police also told the families last week that intelligence agencies knew the Real IRA had cut its warning time about bombs from one hour to half an hour, but the RUC had not been told.

The victims’ chairman, whose son Aidan was among the dead, said he has written to Mr Leckey because “it’s important that the coroner is aware that information was withheld from the inquest.”

“The coroner has a right to the information that was available,” he said.

Mr Gallagher said he was not taking a view on whether the inquest should be reopened. “If he wants to make a statement or reopen part of the case, that’s a decision for him,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

By Debra Douglas
28 February 2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usToday is the first anniversary of the disappearance of murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian.

This day last year, the fun-loving 25-year-old disappeared after a party at a caravan park in the coastal village of Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsula.

One year on, her body has not been found, her killers have not been caught and her family continue to suffer immeasurable heartache.

With no grave to visit, they were today planning a quiet day at home together after a public press conference marking the anniversary last week in which they appealed once again for people with information to come forward.

In the days after the shop assistant disappeared, her family pleaded with her to come home, still hoping she would return safe and well.

But by the end of that week, the police had launched a murder inquiry.

Since then, the Dorrians have waged a tireless campaign to find their precious daughter and sister.

They launched a website and offered a reward of £10,000 for information leading to the discovery of her body. They also unveiled a “Ribbon of Hope” appeal to encourage the local community to show solidarity as well as erecting billboards with pictures of Lisa on them across Belfast, north Down and Newtownards.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, her sister Joanne said: “We’re still hopeful we will find her body.

“Even if there is only a 2% chance, we can’t let that go. That 2% is the reason we all get up every morning and face the day ahead.

“Two weeks ago, our number one aim was the recovery of her body so that we could say goodbye.

“That is less likely now, but still not impossible.”

A number of people have been arrested in connection with Lisa’s murder but all have been released without charge.

Belfast Telegraph

As senior security sources reject claims that Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was an informer, security expert Brian Rowan analyses the role played by agents in Ulster

28 February 2006

The Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was not a police agent, the Belfast Telegraph has been told.

A senior security source told this newpaper last week that he would be “astounded” if the Special Branch had recruited Knight.

Now it has emerged that the police have moved in recent days to give private assurances to a senior member of the Policing Board and nationalist politicians.

The official police position is not to comment on news reports relating to informers, but in the past week steps have been taken to address the claims that Knight was working for the Special Branch.

“People with knowledge have gone to particular lengths to deny the Knight allegation,” the SDLP’s Alex Attwood said.

“At a time when intelligence sources are providing confirmation about what MI5 knew about Omagh, the determination to deny Knight may have greater credibility.”

That denial is understood to have been communicated to the vice-chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley.

Suspicions that Knight was a Special Branch informer are linked to unconfirmed reports that the loyalist killer was drawing large amounts of money from a bank account into which £50,000 a year was being paid.

“There’s no way any of our sources were paid £1,000 a week,” a senior intelligence source told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We had upper limits – nowhere near £50,000 a year.”

This source has detailed knowledge of the Special Branch, its agents and their payments.

“Our top source in Belfast was getting good money, (but) not £50,000 a year.”

That “top source” is said to be a republican, still “unexposed”, according to the senior intelligence figure who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph over the weekend.

He also said the revelations about the loyalist John White published in this newspaper last week are “as safe as houses” – meaning they are true.

The Belfast Telegraph disclosed that White, a convicted killer and close associate of the Shankill loyalist Johnny Adair, was a Special Branch informer.

In the Torrens Knight case, the question that will now be asked is whether he was working for any of the other intelligence agencies – those with the ability to pay £50,000 and more a year.

The loyalist was a member of a UDA gang jailed for the 1993 gun attacks in Castlerock and Greysteel in which 12 people were murdered.

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
28 February 2006

A new website depicting the lives of families in west Belfast almost a century ago has been launched.

The experience of residents in the Shankill and Falls before the First World War and the partition of Ireland, when Catholics and Protestants often lived on the same street, is outlined in new detail from data given by the 1911 census.

People who want to trace their ancestors can use the service to search for details and may also research the jobs and homes which shaped a large part of their relatives’ lives.

Queen’s University historian, Professor Liam Kennedy, is directing the pioneering project and said it showed a surprising degree of religious integration in housing.

“The cultural heritage of Belfast is more complex than many of us imagine and now, via our new website, it is possible to see the great similarities between Protestant and Catholic working-class families and indeed the extent to which their residence patterns intermingled.

“It is fascinating to discover how, in a way barely imaginable nowadays, some streets in west Belfast, particularly in the Grosvenor Road area, were shared by both Protestants and Catholics.”

The website can be accessed by logging on to www.belfastfamilyhistory.com.

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
28 February 2006

Members of a Protestant victims’ group whose parade was called off in Dublin last weekend will never stray into the Republic again, a spokesman for the group claimed today.

South Armagh Protestants’ representative Willie Frazer warned that many participants in last Saturday’s aborted Love Ulster parade were so appalled by the violent scenes that they will never venture across the border again.

Dublin was rocked by the worst violence since the H-block riots in 1981 as scores of gardai were injured and pitched battles fought across the city between dissident republicans and police.

Mr Fraser said last weekend’s events had done little to convince members of his group of the tolerance of people in the south.

“There are quite a few people in Dublin on Saturday who will never go over the border again.

“It has done nothing to reassure them, in fact they are more convinced than ever that nothing has changed in the Republic,” he said.

“We believe it is because we were victims of republican terrorism and that is what their problem was.

“We stand for what the republicans have inflicted for the last 35 years. This was a case of highlighting the victims’ issue and saying that this is our culture.”

Political leaders north and south of the border, from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey have condemned the violence.

Gardai are drawing up a report on the matter, to be submitted to Justice Minister Michael McDowell and there have even been calls for a public inquiry into the matter.

Love Ulster protestors, who numbered up to 700 and included bandsmen, were hemmed into a corner of Parnell Square and not permitted to march up O’Connell Street to the Irish parliament.

A later attempt by loyalists to demonstrate nearby also saw further disturbances in Nassau Street and there was also rioting in the Jervis Shopping Centre close to O’Connell Street.

The trouble broke out after Republican Sinn Fein, which supports dissident republicans, held a counter-demonstration in O’Connell Street.

Mr Frazer, who heads the Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) group based in Co Armagh, said no decision had been taken on whether to reschedule the march.

Daily Ireland

In the second excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, we discover how Sands was politicised during his first period in prison.

28/02/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usGerry Adams’ and Brendan Hughes’ arrival in Cage 11 started a pot boiling that had been simmering for some time. The latent dispute between younger volunteers and the more conservative and Catholic veterans coincided with a parallel dispute within the IRA about Britain’s intentions in Ireland…

The IRA leadership insisted that the British were beginning to withdraw from Ireland.

This assertion was nothing new. The IRA leadership had been claiming that victory was “imminent” since late 1973, when Republican News ran an article entitled “British Army Starts Withdrawal”. In May 1974, the paper ran a front-page story claiming that the British minister of defence Roy Mason had admitted that his troops had “lost the war”, and cited the last day of 1974 as the planned “English withdrawal date”. Now, the IRA leadership claimed that British withdrawal was an integral part of the truce process.

Many younger prisoners believed them. They had been in jail for years and were now being told by their leaders that they would soon be released because the British were withdrawing.

“We wanted to see this in terms of a British withdrawal, so we did,” admits Séanna Walsh.

Bobby’s continuing belief in the leadership is displayed in a scribble that he wrote on the inside cover of an Irish book that he was reading: “Roibeard Ó Seachnasaigh, Cas 11, Ceis Fada, Blian 75, Blian Saoirse” (Bobby Sands, Cage 11, Long Kesh, 1975, Year of Freedom).

Adams and Hughes argued the opposite: The British were not withdrawing, the war was not yet over, and the struggle had to be rebuilt with politically educated rank-and-file volunteers. They spoke of a “long war”, with implications for all aspects of the struggle. Most importantly, the struggle had to become more politicised; it had to offer something to the communities at its centre if they were to support it over the long haul.

They opposed the IRA’s strategy outside of jail. They viewed the struggle as an anti-colonial war of liberation and saw the IRA’s retaliatory campaign against Protestants as a diversion that played straight into the hands of the British state. Inside prison, they opposed the undemocratic, authoritarian, non-transparent, overly militaristic, and anti-Marxist leadership of Davey Morley and his camp staff…

Adams was cautious. He constantly beat into the others, including Hughes, to stay within the movement’s lines because he knew that Cage 11 was barely tolerated by the camp staff. Hughes, on the other hand, could not contain his open disdain for Morley and once told him straight to his face that he could build a far better group of volunteers with self-discipline and comradeship than Morley’s brand of enforced discipline.

“It was clear where I stood, quite clear where I stood,” Hughes recalls. “Gerry was shrewder in his opposition… Me being who I was, I was more verbally antagonistic toward them all.”

While the men in Cage 11 immediately accepted Adams as their OC, they were far from unified about the need for change either in the prison leadership or in the overall leadership and strategy of the IRA. For Bobby, continued support for Davey Morley was a matter of army discipline. He was an IRA volunteer who had been trained to follow orders without question. Hughes’ open defiance of the leadership led to his first direct encounter with Bobby Sands. Hughes had been criticising the IRA leadership in front of other prisoners for their sectarian bombing campaign against Protestants, which he said played into the hands of the British government’s campaign to portray the Irish struggle as tribal warfare between two equally repugnant groups of natives.

One day, Gerard Rooney brought Bobby and another prisoner into the Dark’s [Hughes’] hut to arrest him. They escorted Hughes to the study hut, where Roon accused him of dissenting against the authority of the IRA leadership and gave him a severe reprimand. Rooney ordered Hughes to stop his opposition to the leadership or he would be court-martialled.

Hughes went back to his hut, seething with anger. He packed up his gear and prepared to leave Cage 11 to join the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in another cage. Adams persuaded him to stay. In hindsight, Hughes admits that the position of the arresting party that detained him was not as clear-cut as he thought at the time. Once he got to know Bobby and began talking to him, he realised he and Rooney were already coming round to his way of thinking. But they were disciplined IRA volunteers. Bobby’s heart was not in the arrest, yet he did it as a matter of IRA discipline.

Over the next six to nine months, Bobby’s resistance to change broke down. He began to question the movement’s strategies, both inside and outside of jail, as he raised his political consciousness to a higher level.

Gerry Adams encouraged all of the young prisoners to participate in an intensified programme of political education that promoted debate and political self-awareness.

He gave them new confidence to develop their radical political ideology and protected them from the camp officers as they did so. Adams and Hughes also won their loyalty by demonstrating solidarity with them rather than demanding obedience.

Personality conflicts dissolved. Soon, Cage 11 had a more collective leadership and collective responsibility. In their military parades, everybody fell in together and ordinary volunteers got to dismiss the parade. Cage staff did menial tasks alongside ordinary volunteers. Even the distinction between cleared and uncleared prisoners was largely ignored.

Cage 11 became the centre of challenge to the established leadership as Adams built “a number of enterprises” to raise the prisoners’ political awareness.

He introduced new classes that critically deconstructed republican ideology and policy. He resourced them by starting a book club that provided the necessary materials for self-education. Adams used his contacts to supply the book club and to build up a cage library. Prisoners gave up their food parcels to get books, instead. Bobby Sands, says Adams, had “a more than normal interest” in these activities. Adams developed this new awareness by encouraging the young radicals to continue reading global revolutionaries but also to synthesise them with Irish socialists like James Connolly and Liam Mellows.

“It’s all well and good talking about Che Guevara or Hô Chi Minh… now let’s get back to what we’re doing,” he would challenge them.

He strongly believed that “you ground your politics in the indigenous… it’s much easier to argue the validity of a position from the perspective of a James Connolly or a Fintan Lalor or a William Thompson or a Liam Mellows or a Pearse.”

Bobby threw himself into the new education regime. When he was not in classes or debating in the yard, Tomboy Loudon often found him lying on the bed in the cubicle they now shared in the Gaeltacht hut, holding a book by Che Guevara in his right hand and writing notes on the partition wall with the pen he held in his left. He began to organise notebooks on “guerrilla struggle” and “the Cuban revolution”.

Bobby and the others developed from a near childish understanding of politics to a relatively mature political analysis. They were under the guidance of the new leadership but they achieved the transition by learning from each other. Learning came through participation and debate and not through lecturing and the handing down of “truth” by a “teacher” of superior intellect.

The debate that had the strongest effect on Bobby Sands began when Gerry Adams organised a series of critical discussions of Sinn Féin’s central policy document called Éire Nua. What began with a critical analysis of existing policy ended as a full-blown radical alternative that Adams called “active abstentionism” — that is, abstention from the existing structures of mainstream politics while actively creating an alternative that combined grass-roots democracy with military resistance to British rule.

Adams encouraged wide-ranging discussions of people’s councils and grass-roots politics, always with an eye toward how a more democratic and participatory grass-roots strategy could be incorporated into the republican campaign outside of prison. The prisoners discussed how military struggle alone was an inadequate basis for bringing about progressive social change; it had also to be political struggle, a struggle to create something and not just a fight against the Brits. But how could you do this and still adhere to one of the movement’s sacred cows: the policy of abstaining from elections?

Just because the movement did not participate in elections, they decided, did not mean it must avoid politics. Rather, it had to build an alternative administration, particularly in “war zones” where the IRA enjoyed widespread grass-roots support and where the state failed to provide adequate services.

Adams incorporated the main points of these discussions in a series of articles under the pseudonym “Brownie” in Republican News. In time, this would be his most lasting influence on Bobby Sands, not just in terms of what he wrote but also by demonstrating that the written word could be an effective tool of struggle. If, in time, Bobby Sands became the leading republican propagandist through his own writings — prose, essays, songs, and poetry — he was following the example of Adams. In Adams, Sands found a role model to help him complete his personal journey toward becoming a politicised militant.

Mellows was the Irish revolutionary that Bobby came to admire most. He was one of four republican leaders who the Southern Irish government executed in December 1922, in reprisal for an IRA shooting of a member of the Dublin parliament. The four were executed without trial, by cabinet decision, even though they were all in jail when the politician was shot. Mellows, just 27 years old, was the most radical republican of his time.

Mellows’ writings contained thoughts about building alternative republican structures as a challenge to the existing government of his day.

“Where is the government of the republic?” he wrote. “It must be found… It is, and must always be, a reality.”

By this, Mellows meant that alternative structures of government had to be built, including courts, land settlements, decrees, etc. Now, the prisoners in Cage 11 explored whether a similar opportunity to “find” the republic existed in the North of Ireland. People in the nationalist communities had “opted out” of the British system, providing a real opportunity to build alternative structures of local governance. As Adams summarised their discussions, “… the building of alternatives cannot wait until ‘after the war’. It must start now.”

And this was not just a military war; it was also necessary to fight the British on economic, political, and cultural fronts. Now was the time to build “people’s organisations” because they could harness the energy that “only a people at war possess”.

Volunteers like Bobby could build the alternative. In every neighbourhood, they could work with people to govern themselves. They might even organise parallel community councils in the three or four big nationalist areas in Belfast, complete with departments to provide services. Far from being an alternative to armed struggle, such a programme of community action would strengthen the IRA’s war effort.

Again, as Adams wrote: “If we have only a local unit in an area, the Brit wins by isolating or removing that unit from the people. If the unit is part of an aggressive republican or people’s resistance structure (local people’s councils), the Brit must remove everyone connected, from schoolchildren to customers in the co-ops, from paper sellers to street committees, before he can defeat us. Immersed in the structure, as part of the alternative, republicanism can’t be isolated and will never be defeated.”

Bobby Sands was excited by this kind of talk. Here was the kind of project that he could work with, a revolutionary project that was Irish in character and origins, yet reflected the kind of militant politics that he had been reading about in the books by Latin American revolutionaries.

In Mellows, he found an Irish revolutionary spirit that he had earlier located in men and women from other countries. In Gerry Adams, he found a mentor who had practical suggestions about a way forward. Here was something that he could take from Long Kesh and put into practice back in Twinbrook.

Tomorrow’s excerpt describes the end of the first hunger strike in 1980.

Bobby Sands book launches:
Belfast: Thursday, March 9 at 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls Road.
Dublin: Friday, March 10 at 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre, Pearse Street.
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13. Details to be confirmed.
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm, Mid-Ulster Republican Centre, Gulladuff.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

Calendar

February 2006
S M T W T F S
« Jan   Mar »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728  

A note about Archives

For March-Sept. 2007 click here:

March - Sept 2007

All other months and years are below.

'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands